Comments: About Comments

Thanks for this timely reminder. I know I have been guilty of snide ad hom comments, and am glad that y'all have gently not posted them.

We have just had in the States a more nasty mid-term election than I can remember, and am in my 60s. It coursens public discourse, and is, sadly, like the flu, catching.

Thanks again.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 12 November 2010 at 10:53pm GMT

Thank you, Hosts of 'Thinking Anglicans' You have given all of us food for thought - on the need for courtesy on this site. I feel that the witness value of good argumentation that T.A. encourages - without resorting to personal invective against fellow commentators - is one of the reasons this blog site is so popular - among both liberal and not-so-liberal visitors.

I, personally, will do my very best to comply with the ethics of the site, and ask that anyone who may have been insulted by me in the past will forgive me. I publish under my own name, and am usually confident that the views I offer are my own, and no-one ought to feel that they are condemned by me, personally; irritated, sometimes may be. But not condemned.

I also publish under my own URL as:

en Christo, Father Ron

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 12 November 2010 at 11:10pm GMT

I had for a long time thought that 'Feeling...' would have been more accurate in your title than 'Thinking...' so I am glad to see the policy restated. The sheer level of bile in the comments sometimes keeps me away from the site for long periods (partly because I want to resist making a similar, reactive response).

Having once been savaged for something posted in all innocence but presumed to be sardonic, I'd also draw attention to some wisdom of Ignatius Loyola:

' should be supposed that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbour's statement than to condemn it. Further, if one cannot interpret it favourably, one should ask how the other person means it. If that meaning is wrong one should correct the person with love, and if this is not enough, one should search out every appropriate means through which, by understanding the statement a good way, it may be saved.'

Whether any of this might have the side-effect of cutting down the frequency with which some people comment it will also be interesting to observe. :)

But thanks to all who bring such insight and new perspectives to me through their posts. And even more thanks to the remarkable team of editors for their hard work.

Posted by Lister Tonge at Friday, 12 November 2010 at 11:14pm GMT

Let's see exactly what you mean by this.

Am I permitted to characterize the Archbishop of Canterbury as "spineless"?

In my view, his deeds and words fully warrant that description.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 12:39am GMT

Sorry, I´m a violator. I won´t qualify my apology but simply will try harder to not get furious with the various realities at the Anglican Communion that upset me.

Thank you for providing this top notch information source for me and others throughout the Anglican Communion.

Leonardo Ricardo/Leonard Clark Beardsley
Central America

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 1:49am GMT

I am just as guilty as others when it comes to my instant emotional reactions to statements made by leaders of both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Communions. I apologize if my comments have hurt others and I will make a concerted effort to be more sensitive and charitable. Sometimes it is quite difficult to frame all of my comments based solely on another person's words and deeds because those words and deeds have serious ramifications and consequences to the disenfranchised, but I do believe a higher level of discourse is always the best way forward. I heartily agree that the level of debate needs to be moved to a higher level. I live on the West Coast of America (San Francisco) and we have just endured several progressive losses in our national elections. This has fueled a great deal of disappointment for many Americans who felt such hope just a few years ago. If we are to work for inclusion of women and glbt members in all areas of ministry in Christ's Church (no matter what branch of the tree, perhaps a higher level of discourse will allow us to engage with each other in the spirit of kindness.

Posted by Chris Smith at Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 5:48am GMT

Or how 'bout ad hominems ONLY if they're as catchy as Tim Minchin is about Josef Ratzinger? ;-)

But seriously, I will TRY to clean up my virtual mouth. I do see ALL people as being made in the Image and Likeness of God (and *infinitely loved* by their Creator) . . . but sometimes Yours Truly's Imago Dei gets caught w/ a bit of a log in the eyes. Bother...

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 7:07am GMT

Thank you. I too have been guilty and am grateful to be reminded that discourteous remarks are never helpful.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 7:41am GMT

Thanks. I wonder if I ought to adopt a policy of not responding to posts until 24 hours after I have seen them. Then it would be clearer whether it actually matters very much and whether I want/need to say anything at all.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 9:20am GMT

I agree completely and consider this a wise move. Unfortunately the instantaneous nature of commenting can cause all of us to sometimes make comments that we might later regret. Also, when feelings run high, it is not always easy to discern the boundary between strongly expressed opinion/ feeling and offensive personal attack.

Posted by Suem at Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 9:25am GMT

Thank you for this timely reminder.
I post only rarely, yet use a pseudonym for fear of victimisation by Mother Church and her representatives here in the CofE.

Posted by Dodgy_Vicar at Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 9:36am GMT

Bravo! I have contributed comment here, faithfully, diplomatically, and with good will, and found, even when I was not the object of, well, to put it politely, caustic, remarks having little or nothing to do with the gist of what I'd written, there were so many postings that were just plain cruel, and meant to be, with the poster obviously relishing the hurt that was to be inflicted, or had been, that I've not even read the comment sections of postings in months on this site. Here's hoping things improve. Thanks, as ever, for your efforts!

Posted by The Rev'd Prof James Meredith Day at Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 1:20pm GMT

Thank you, both for providing a wonderful service, and for this reminder. I also appreciate how quick all the above commenters have been to apologize for their part in any debasing of discourse. However vitriolic the debate can sometimes be here, it's great always to know that the authors are ready to repent. I've been lurking a while, and even when people are at their angriest, I'd reckon that most commenters here are generally well-intentioned and considerate, and I get a lot out of reading the comments as well as the main posts here, so thank you all.

Posted by Sarah at Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 3:27pm GMT

Thank you Simons & Peter for your reminder. Forgive me, my brothers and sisters, for I too have strayed, mea culpa.
If it's real names you want, I'll use both it and my pseudonym.
I can get testy when I see statements I consider outrageous, but then those who disagree probably see some of my statements as outrageous as well.
But ...
I second Jeremy's question on Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 12:39am GMT

Posted by Peter Gross - peterpi at Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 8:40pm GMT

There should be no more hiding behind false names.....then this reformation can really be valid.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 10:37pm GMT

I will add my mea culpa to the list.

Posted by Counterlight at Sunday, 14 November 2010 at 12:33am GMT

Concerning pseudonyms, we have said that they are discouraged. What I really do find irritating though is that a few people change their pseudonym frequently. This really is unnecessary. You know who you are...

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 14 November 2010 at 8:22am GMT

Jeremy asks: 'Am I permitted to characterize the Archbishop of Canterbury as "spineless"?'

I suggest not. That would be an ad hominem comment. But it would be reasonable to outline why you consider a particular stance taken to be 'spineless'.

We don't want a banal, boring place. A bit of colour is a good thing. But it should be within the bounds of decency, fairness, good taste, etc etc, and as noted before, Christian charity, towards those we disagree with as well as to those with whom we might agree. (And of course on different topics these might be the same people.)

As for pseudonymns, we understand that there are some situations in which it may be necessary to conceal one's identity, but we think these should be few and far between. In general this is a discussion between consenting Christians and we should trust each other with our real identities. There are plenty of other blogs where anonymity or pseudonymity is the norm. This is not one of them. We think there is a real value in using real names. As Simon S wrote, we discourage pseudonyms.

We do appreciate those who add comments. We want to make this even better both for commenters and for the majority who read but rarely or never post comments.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Sunday, 14 November 2010 at 5:49pm GMT

I clearly wasn't paying attention at school, can I ask what 'ad hominem' means?

All in favour of a focus on the ball rather than the player. Thankyou for restating this.

Posted by David Keen at Sunday, 14 November 2010 at 7:36pm GMT

Re pseudonyms: when I first started posting on TA 5 years ago or so, I used my real name.

Then I began thinking realistically: I could be forthright about being queer, queer, queer---or I could give myself HALF a chance to be employed in a Christian context. But probably not both. I'll happily switch back when Christian homophobia has expired!

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 14 November 2010 at 11:11pm GMT

"Ad hominem"--from the Latin, literally "to the man"

It means a statement that discusses the person, as opposed to the person's position or comment. Think of it as the difference between "You're stupid" and
"What a stupid thing to say".

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 14 November 2010 at 11:12pm GMT

I know that I'm more than guilty at letting my temper fly away on this blogsite, but when I hear the 'bigot's have got rights too' arguments in many variations, my blood boils. I'm sorry if I've offended, consider it my hillbilly background. Now that's one area you can make fun off, 'cause it's true!

Bradley Upham
Lakewood, Ohio USA

Posted by evensongjunkie at Monday, 15 November 2010 at 3:58pm GMT

I have been in very considerable physical pain for some weeks now, and when it reaches that level of intensity it is extraordinarily difficult to focus on anything other than one's pain, even though I am far more accustomed to it than most people and should, therefore, be able to deal with it more easily.

It occurs to me that perhaps the same thing is true of intense spiritual pain, and that as a consequence we lash out at the people we perceive as causing us that pain simply because it hurts so very much; we may then fail to see the pain of others.

Incidentally, my use of the nom de plume Chenier was simply a result of transferring over from commenting on CIF Belief; it was certainly not founded in the belief that I had anything to fear here from my fellow Christians. But this seems an opportune moment to proffer my own name, and note that I live in the City of London itself, though I will not be participating until the medics have patched me up once again...

Posted by Stevie Gamble at Saturday, 20 November 2010 at 8:00pm GMT
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